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Get Off The Range And Start Training For A Real-Life Gunfight

Man with gray jacket shooting black rifle on range

When I say “gun training” the first thing that comes to mind is probably a trip down to the range. That’s with good reason. For 99 percent of gun owners, almost 100 percent of their gun training is going to take place at the local gun range. But is this where all or even most of your training should be taking place? 

The short answer is no. The longer answer is… longer, but also points in the direction of why you need to train outside of the range and what you should be doing for weapons training when you’re not at the range. 

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What’s Wrong With Training At The Range?

To be clear, there’s nothing necessarily “wrong” with training at the range. The issue is that range training is limited and incomplete in its scope. If you’re training to win shooting competitions, you probably don’t need to train off of the range, unless it’s a more specialized range designed specifically for your sport. 

Most people, however, aren’t training for competitive shooting. They’re training because they want to defend themselves and their families in a real-life gunfight. This means that the range is an inadequate form of training when taken by itself.

Note that we’re not saying “range training is useless.” It’s absolutely not. However, consider what range training is: You’re sending round after round down range from a fixed distance at a moment of your choosing in the perfect stance at a paper target that isn’t fighting back or attempting to do you harm.

In other words, it’s absolutely nothing like a real-life gun fight. 

Why You Should Be Training Outside Of The Range

Now that we’ve outlined what a typical trip to the range is like, let’s talk about what a real-life gunfight is going to look like.

Whether you’re in your home or on the street, you’re going to be dealing with an attacker who means to kill you. If an attacker isn’t trying to kill you, commit serious bodily injury or commit a violent sexual assault, you have no business drawing your weapon.

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Consider what kind of psychological environment that will be for you. Your body and mind will be under stress the likes of which you have probably never been in at any other point in your life. Your fine motor skills will go out the window. In fact, you might find that your vision is blurry or shuts off entirely. You will be forced to make life-or-death decisions in a split second at a time of extreme emotional stress.

The range simply isn’t going to prepare you for this.

Tragically, however, many gun owners think that if they find themselves in a life-or-death situation that they are going to “rise to the occasion.” Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, you will fall to your level of training. If a real-life gunfight is the first time you have to fire your weapon under extreme emotional stress, you are likely going to lose the battle – and your life. 

How To Train Off Of The Range

The range isn’t just inadequate because of the conditions of a typical trip to the range. It’s also inadequate because most of the training you need to do to prepare for a real-life gunfight isn’t allowed at the range. Most places won’t even let you practice drawing your weapon, let alone train from positions other than standing up. 

So how do you train for a real-life gunfight?

The short answer is dry fire training. This is where you “fire” your weapon without any ammunition in it. Even competitive shooters spend way more time dry fire training than they do firing live rounds. You can also use Airsoft pistols, SIRT pistols and other tools to help you prepare for a real-life gunfight. 

Once you have a safe way to train with your firearm without live rounds, you have to begin training in a manner closer to a real-life gunfight. Some examples of how you can do that include:

  • Active Resistance: Get a training partner that you trust and, after you both check the firearm to ensure that it is completely empty, you can take turns attacking each other to practice training with your weapon during hand-to-hand combat. Gradually increase resistance as it becomes easier. 
  • Stress-Based Training: An interesting thing about stress is that your body and mind for the most part can’t distinguish between one kind and another – it’s mostly about the difference of the intensity of the stress. So you can begin introducing psychological stress to your training by simply standing on one leg, then ramp it up with things like having an alarm clock or fire alarm going off while you shoot. Think of creative and innovative ways to increase stress.
  • Different Positions: Shoot from a variety of different positions. Down on your knees, flat on your back, seated on the floor, seated in a chain, getting up off the ground… all of these are great ways to prepare yourself for the likely compromised positions you will almost certainly be in if you have to shoot in a real-life firefight. 
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These are three very effective ways that you can begin training for a real-life gunfight by increasing stress, thus acclimating your body and mind to the kind of stress you will likely encounter if you find yourself having to defend a life with your firearm. Active resistance and different positions offer an opportunity to train for the kinds of conditions you’re likely to find yourself in if you have to use your gun in real life. 

Remember: Failing to train is training to fail. Range training is fun and great for increasing your accuracy. However, it’s not just enough to prepare you for a real-life gunfight if it’s the only way that you’re training. 

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Protect Your Second Amendment Rights: Oppose SB 1160 and SB 1253 in California


On Tuesday, April 2nd at 8:30am, the California Senate Public Safety Committee is slated to review two concerning bills that threaten the rights of firearm owners across the Golden State. As staunch advocates for the Second Amendment, it’s imperative for NRA Members and supporters of gun rights to take action. Senate Bill 1160 and Senate Bill 1253 pose significant threats, and it’s crucial to voice opposition to these proposed measures.

Senate Bill 1160: Annual Firearm Registration Requirement


Senate Bill 1160 represents a direct assault on the rights of law-abiding gun owners in California. This bill seeks to mandate an annual re-registration process for all firearms with the Department of Justice. If enacted, firearm owners would be compelled to navigate bureaucratic hurdles each year and pay undisclosed fees to maintain their registration status.

This onerous requirement not only burdens responsible gun owners with unnecessary red tape but also sets a dangerous precedent for government overreach into the fundamental rights protected by the Second Amendment. Under SB 1160, failure to comply with the annual registration mandate could result in severe penalties, including fines of up to $1000 and the potential confiscation of unregistered firearms.

Upholding Second Amendment Freedoms: Take Action Against SB 1160

It’s imperative for Second Amendment supporters to stand united against Senate Bill 1160. This legislation threatens the core principles of individual liberty and firearm ownership rights. We urge all concerned citizens to contact members of the Senate Public Safety Committee and vehemently oppose SB 1160.

Senate Bill 1253: Restricting Firearm Possession without Firearm Safety Card

Another concerning proposal slated for review is Senate Bill 1253, which seeks to further restrict firearm ownership rights in California. Under existing law, individuals are required to obtain a Firearm Safety Card to purchase or receive a firearm. However, SB 1253 aims to extend this requirement to possession, effectively prohibiting law-abiding citizens from possessing firearms without a valid Firearm Safety Card.

This additional hurdle not only imposes unnecessary burdens on responsible gun owners but also fails to address the root causes of crime and violence. Criminals, by definition, do not adhere to firearm laws, rendering such measures ineffective at curbing illicit gun activities. Instead, SB 1253 unfairly penalizes law-abiding citizens and undermines their ability to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Defending Second Amendment Liberties: Oppose SB 1253

Senate Bill 1253 represents yet another attempt to erode the Second Amendment freedoms of Californians. By imposing stringent requirements for firearm possession, this bill unfairly targets responsible gun owners while doing little to enhance public safety. It’s essential for proponents of gun rights to take a stand against SB 1253 and advocate for the preservation of constitutional liberties.

Take Action: Protect Second Amendment Rights in California


As the Senate Public Safety Committee prepares to review SB 1160 and SB 1253, it’s paramount for NRA Members and supporters of the Second Amendment to make their voices heard. Use the Take Action button below to contact committee members and urge them to oppose these egregious bills. Together, we can defend our cherished freedoms and safeguard the right to keep and bear arms in California.

Do you live in California? What do you do to oppose greater encroachment on your right to keep and bear arms? Leave your thoughts in the comments

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The AR-15: A Versatile Platform for Every Shooter


The AR pattern rifle, affectionately known as the “AR-15,” has become a staple in the firearms community, offering unparalleled versatility and customization options. From budget-friendly builds to high-end boutique rifles, there seems to be a configuration for every shooter’s preferences and needs. But with so many parts available, is there truly a rifle for everyone? And is there even a wrong answer to the AR question?

Diverse Builders, Diverse Builds

The AR-15 has evolved beyond just a firearm; it’s now a sport in itself, with enthusiasts eagerly assembling rifles tailored to their specific desires. Whether someone is aiming for the cheapest build, the most boutique setup, or a specialized rifle for a particular purpose like suppressor use, the AR platform offers endless possibilities. This diversity among builders reflects the platform’s adaptability and appeal to a wide range of shooters.

Navigating Budget Builds: A Personal Journey

Recently, there’s been a surge in interest in building affordable AR-style rifles, prompting many to explore budget-friendly options. One such endeavor involved sourcing parts directly from Bear Creek Arsenal (BCA), a company with a reputation for offering budget-friendly components. Despite initial reservations due to past controversies and quality concerns, the experience of assembling a rifle from BCA parts proved surprisingly positive.

Unboxing and Initial Impressions

Upon receiving the parts from BCA, there was a mix of anticipation and skepticism. However, upon inspection, there was a notable nod of approval for the quality of finish work, packaging, and overall presentation. While some parts lacked robust packaging, none arrived damaged, showcasing BCA’s attention to detail. Despite some vagueness regarding product specs, BCA’s use of 4150 CM-V and 416 Stainless barrels instilled confidence in the build.

Assembly Practices: Attention to Detail

Building the lower receiver proved relatively straightforward, but attention to detail was paramount. Proper torqueing of the castle nut, staking the end plate, and meticulous lubrication ensured adherence to factory specifications and optimal performance. The importance of using proper tools, lubricants, and assembly techniques cannot be overstated, particularly for critical components like the trigger and gas system.

Navigating Upper Receiver Assembly

While assembling the lower receiver was relatively straightforward, the upper receiver presented more complexity and significance. Attention to detail during barrel installation, gas system alignment, and muzzle device timing were crucial for ensuring accuracy, reliability, and safety. Thermal fitting techniques and proper torqueing procedures were employed to optimize barrel-to-receiver fit and gas system performance.

Range Testing and Final Thoughts

After meticulous assembly and function testing, the rifle was taken to the range for reliability and accuracy testing. Using a variety of ammunition types and optics configurations, the rifle performed admirably, showcasing respectable accuracy and reliability. While there were minor issues such as an over-gassed barrel, these were addressed with aftermarket solutions. Overall, Bear Creek Arsenal’s components proved to offer excellent value for budget-conscious builders, demonstrating that affordability doesn’t necessarily mean compromising on quality.

The AR-15 is a highly adaptable platform allowing builds for a wide array of preferences for all kinds of shooters. Whether building a budget-friendly rifle or investing in high-end components, the AR platform offers endless customization possibilities. While each builder may have their own priorities and preferences, the beauty of the AR-15 lies in its ability to accommodate them all, ensuring that there truly is a rifle for every shooter.

Do you own an AR-15? Have you ever built one? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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Mack W. Gwinn Jr.: A Tribute to a Firearms Pioneer


Mack W. Gwinn Jr., a visionary in the firearms industry, passed away on March 11, 2024, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and dedication to his craft. Born in Florida, Gwinn’s journey into the world of firearms began with his service in the U.S. Army Special Forces, where he earned several Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star during seven deployments to Vietnam.

From Military Service to Firearms Innovation

Following his military service, Gwinn transitioned into the firearms industry, where he made significant contributions. One of his notable achievements was acquiring the rights to the Colt IMP-221, a stockless, gas-operated bullpup pistol initially developed for aircrew survival in the U.S. Air Force. Redesigning the concept to accept the 5.56 NATO caliber and standard AR magazines, Gwinn founded Gwinn Arms and introduced the Bushmaster Arm Pistol in the early 1970s.

Pioneering Personal Defense Weapons

The Bushmaster Arm Pistol, an innovative pistol-sized firearm utilizing an intermediate round, predated the concept of personal defense weapons (PDWs) by a generation. Although not a commercial blockbuster, the Arm Pistol laid the foundation for Bushmaster Firearms and left an indelible mark on the industry.

Legacy of Innovation

Beyond the Bushmaster Arm Pistol, Gwinn’s influence extended to various other firearms projects and inventions. He held patents for extended capacity magazines and developed concepts for firearms applications ranging from target pistols to recoil reduction systems. His ingenuity and curiosity led him to explore diverse projects, including vehicle design and accessory development.

Remembering a Trailblazer

Mack W. Gwinn Jr.’s passing marks the end of an era in the firearms community. His contributions to the industry will be remembered for years to come, serving as inspiration for future generations of innovators. In honoring his memory, donations can be made to the Maine Veterans Project, and condolences may be expressed to his family at BrookingsSmith.

Mack W. Gwinn Jr. leaves behind a legacy of excellence, marked by his unwavering commitment to pushing the boundaries of firearms design and technology. His impact on the industry will continue to resonate, ensuring his place among the pantheon of firearms pioneers.

Do you know Mack W. Gwinn Jr? How about his famous firearms? Leave your thoughts in the comments below. 

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